With Thanksgiving in sight, some of you might be preemptively stressed about that uncomfortable phenomenon that plagues so many of us at mealtime: bloating. Some small studies have evaluated certain populations within the US to estimate that between 15 and 30% of us experience bloating, which makes this an incredibly common occurrence.
And bloating can be pretty painful, particularly if you tend to be prone to digestive upset or have food sensitivities. In this case, you’ll want to make some adjustments to what you eat over the holiday season. But for others, this is less about digestive pain and more about not wanting to deal with an uncomfortably distended abdomen — still valid!
Before you rearrange your entire Thanksgiving menu (which is totally a viable option), check out some of our tips for what to do before, during, and after your meal to feel your best.
5 Steps to Combat Bloating After a Big Meal + Support Digestion
#1 Identify What Makes You Bloat or Feel Uncomfortable
The first step to help combat bloating after a big meal has more to do with prevention and identifying what’s causing this uncomfortable feeling in the first place. Is it your grandma’s famous mac and cheese or crispy brussels sprouts (those cruciferous veggies, though)? Maybe it’s your dad’s classic turkey stuffing or pecan pie. Figure out what is going to trigger bloat or an upset stomach, and plan accordingly. Maybe you modify the menu, avoid certain foods, or just have small bites.
If you’re going to eat these things regardless, read on…
#2 Take What You Need — Digestive Enzyme, Probiotic — To Support Digestion
So you know you want to enjoy all of those traditional family recipes and already know you’re going to be in digestive distress, but you’re going through with it anyway. This is where you call for backup ahead of time and go with probiotics, enzymes, and anything else to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Find what works for you, specific to your digestive needs.
Some other natural remedies might include a hot ginger tea (or any kind of hot herbal tea, but ginger helps!),
#3 Drink Water Before, During, and After Your Meal — And CHEW!
You’re supposed to chew your food a lot more than you think (read: 15 to 30 times before swallowing) — chewing triggers the release of digestive enzymes, which in turn can aid your digestion. So on that note, really savor your holiday meal, and reflect on every bite as you chew slowly and thoroughly.
On top of this, many of us walk around pretty dehydrated, statistically speaking. So start drinking water early in the day, keep sipping throughout the day, and drink plenty of water between (well-chewed) bites, as well as after your meal. These two ‘during’ tactics will help the before and after work more efficiently and effectively.
#4 Go For a Walk Afterward to Stimulate Your Digestive System
Make it a fun family activity! In Italy, this post-dinner evening stroll is called la passeggiata, and it’s a cultural hallmark. Perhaps this could be a new holiday tradition while you kill two birds with one stone: get some more steps and give your digestion boost.
#5 Try Some Debloating Yoga Twists
One of our favorite ways to help combat bloating after a big meal is with a little bit of calming yoga (perfect for winding down after a high-energy holiday meal with family). Some yoga twists may remediate any digestive discomfort or distention from going ham on the mashed potatoes.
Don’t Forget: Relax and Enjoy Your Meal
If you’re not feeling uncomfortable, and you’re just worried about a bloated belly, this is your friendly reminder to relax and enjoy this once-a-year food-fueled indulgence. You don’t eat like this every day, so enjoy that favorite dish and lean into the connection you feel to family, friends, history, traditions, and culture on this day.
Bonus Tip — after an evening of enjoying comfort foods and holiday sweets, consider kickstarting the next day with these healthy post-holiday breakfast ideas.